Tag Archives: Astilbe ‘Amethyst’

Sucky weather but a “Hell Yeah” moment

Hello everyone.

It has been a while since I last posted here so my apologies for that.

The truth is I have been hammering away on the book and I’m proud to report that it is completely written and I am now in edit mode. While I’ve known all along what I wanted to convey in this book, it didn’t fully gel until I had pulled in these three photos for one of the chapters.

They perfectly encapsulated the purpose of the book and my feelings on gardening. It was the “A Ha” moment and that moment felt real frickin good. I cannot wait to deliver this to you all and thank you again for your constructive feedback. That feedback has been sitting on my shoulders throughout the writing process.

On the actual garden front, I’ve got nothing.

We had such a mild winter here in the Northeast U.S. and I thought I would have been out in the garden by now, cutting down ornamental grasses, removing weeds and cleaning up the messy perennials.

But then March threw us a curve and we ended up with this.

And this.

And now that the foot of snow has started to melt, we have this.

I may have no choice but to throw on my waterproof shitkickers and start cutting and pruning.

Look for that in the next post.


Deer resistant perennials for wet soil

A friend in town, who only recently became aware of this life changing blog, asked me for some plant recommendations. Oh shit. Typically I am not a fan of doling out plant advice because the pressure can become crippling.

If the recommended plant doesn’t survive, I’m scorned at the next basketball game.

If the suggested choice can’t be found at the local nursery, I’m no longer trusted and the kids aren’t invited to any more birthday parties.

But I’m putting it all on the line today.

Without fear.

I am that confident with the choices I’m about to offer up. The following perennials (staying away from grasses for now; he’ll have to buy me lunch first) are very specific to the conditions we have here in zone 6B New Jersey. Throw in deer and rabbits galore.  And a high water table which leads to very poor draining soil.

So my local homey, here are the top 7 perennials that I can vouch for based on my personal experience. Each has thrived for at least 5 years running and all show no signs of slowing down.

Click on the hyperlink for each plant name for additional info where applicable.

You are welcome in advance.

#1 – Joe Pye Weed close to 6 feet tall, blooms are long lasting, attracts numerous critters  and looks good all the way into the fall.

joe pye weed

joe pye and miscanthus


#2 – Amsoniathe deer have never touched it, great bluish blooms in spring followed by fine textured foliage all summer. But Fall is when it shines with unbelievable colors ranging from yellow to orange.   





#3 – Astilbeno critter has ever touched it, appreciates oodles of moisture, blooms in white and pink and red in late spring and the fern like foliage separates itself from others.   




#4 – Bee Balmthe scent keeps the deer at bay, the bees flock to it and the blooms last all summer and even into fall. I personally love the taller options which make their presence known in the garden.




#5 – Purple Coneflower – yes they are everywhere but it is still an oldie but goodie. Multiplies like mad so there is a full supply year to year. Consistent blooms without a care in the world.   




#6 – Lobelia – cherishes the waterlogged soil and provides late summer blooms.


blue lob


#7 – Mountain Mint not the showiest, but what a critter magnet. I could stand over these in bloom all day.



We’ll talk again in spring dude but start doing your homework now if you want to continue to hang with me.

Why I post so often

I have this friend (dude knows who he is) who on more than one a hundred occasions has asked me “How can you possibly take any more pictures of your garden? Seriously, you have like hundreds of posts in only four years, haven’t you said/photographed it all?”

First off “friend”, and I use the term loosely, I have actually posted 868 times since February of 2010. And while some of the posts are of questionable mind, most are simply an observation of what is going on in my garden at that time. I introduce new plants to my garden each season/year, plants get more robust with age, take on a completely different look and feel when relocated within the garden, change dramatically through the seasons and often times die. And many times it is a combination of all of these things. That is why I can take hundreds of photographs in one session.

Here are some examples just from today.

This is my first witness to a Fothergilla blooming in my own garden as I just planted it last Fall:

I dig the bottlebrush like flowers and are even cooler up close:

I get all jonesed up seeing my Redtwig Dogwood leafing out, knowing we are transitioning from early to mid spring:


Before I know it, it will fill out completely and take its understated turn in the landscape:

The Amsonia are finally emerging from the ground and I frickin love how they look when doing so:

The next step is seeing the first buds forming:

Soon following will be a cacophony of buds:

Then the first bloom:

And finally full bloomage:

All of the foliage on the Astilbes have this cool red/brown/green/rust combo right now and it is fantastic:

Eventually it will settle in all green with hints of red stems:

Then the first buds appear:

And then boom, we’ve got serious blooms:


The photos tell the story and that alone, friend, should give you enough evidence as to why I am now easily completing my 869th post.

Will he ever stop posting plant photos?

Of course he won’t. C’mawn now.  
They are like my children and I need to capture them in all stages of their development so one day we can all look back and smile and laugh and cry. Probably a lot of crying … just a hunch.  
But I digress, here is the latest and greatest out in “le jardin” today: 

Astilbe ‘Amethyst’

Astilbe ‘Athemyst’

Astilbe ‘Amethyst’

Astilbe ‘Deutschland’ 

Viburnum ‘Emerald Lustre’
Viburnum ‘Emerald Lustre’
Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’
Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’
Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’
Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’

Astilbe ‘Amethyst’

Here is an example of why I love gardening so much.
Back in late Fall of 2011, I purchased three Astilbe ‘Amethyst’ plants online at a ridiculous discount. They were something like $1.99 a plant and for that price, I’ll give anything a try.
So in late October, the three little plugs (as opposed to the Three Little Pigs, hmmmm I may have a children’s book idea here) went into the dirt and I basically forgot about them.
Fast forward to Spring 2012 and I was thrilled to see that they had all survived the Winter: 
I have very little shade on my property so I cherish the opportunity to squeeze in some shade loving plants. I was super psyched to see that these puppies were good to go and I couldn’t wait to see how they would treat me in the near future.   
Within a few weeks, I was fortunate to get me some blooms and hot damn, I loved the color:

To get blooms that soon was a bonus as I had no expectations of having any until maybe the following year.

Then one day I stumbled across this view and realized how the ‘Amethyst’ blooms contrasted nicely with the blooms of Nepeta (Catmint) ‘Walker’s Low’:

That combo never crossed my mind but falls under the always growing category of “Awesome plant combinations I never intended”. Some times it is better to be lucky.

I never prune off the blooms on my Astilbes as they remain somewhat interesting from Summer into Fall and into Winter:

Let’s fast forward a bit more to say, last week. Here are those same three Astilbe ‘Amethyst’:

They have filled in beautifully and I couldn’t be more proud of my $1.99 decision. The foliage is tremendous and lush and that alone makes me a happy dude.

But wait, we have more.

There are tons of buds that have formed these past few days and soon enough, we will have a massive explosion of color:

Be sure to tune in and enjoy said explosion of color with me.

Have a great weekend!


Think pink

A few new “bloomers” this week:
I planted a few Astilbe ‘Amethyst’ late last fall and they are already blooming like a champ. Yes, they require a lot of supplemental water which doesn’t necessarily fit into my overall “low maintenance” plan, but I still feel like it’s worth it. These are in one of the few partial shade areas on my property and I am thrilled with them right now:  

I’ll never fully embrace the “pink on yellow” look of the various spireas that are out there (this is ‘Elf’), but blooms are blooms and for now, I will celebrate them:  

Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’ popped out a few blooms overnight and this is by far the earliest it has ever bloomed. I really like this ornamental grass (truth is, I still haven’t found an OG I don’t like) and need to dot a few more in my landscape:

Calamagrostis (Feather Reed Grass) ‘Eldorado’ is in its temporary pink bloom phase and will soon turn to a more tan/buff like color. For now, won’t you relish the “pink phase” with me?:

Speaking of Feather Reed Grass, the old standby ‘Karl Foerster’ is rocking its upright self and is also in the temporary pinkish bloom phase. Good times indeed:

Have a great weekend and get those fingernails dirty. I know I will.